TCN’s Deane Thomas gives us a closer look at Osijek’s Tarda Festival.
This year’s Tarda Festival was something quite spectacular, a credit to the orgainsers Udruga Dola and Bogdanka Cudic Vilic. Set in the grounds of a former ancient Turkish fortress in Darda, visitors were presented with an array of culture and history. It was literally a journey through history, with active performances by the team from Shine Dance Studio, Osijek.
Darda played a strategic role in the 16th century, and is famous for the construction of the Sulejman Bridge, which began in 1526. The bridge connected Osijek and Darda across the river Dravam and gave the Turkish forces a distinct advantage on their conquests in the region. The bridge was rebuilt many times, but finally destroyed in 1686 by the Austrian army.
There were lots of different crafts on show for the visitors to enjoy, as well as plenty of entertainment for the younger generations. Children were able to experience and sense how the younger ones lived in days gone by. A simple wooden framed merry-go- round, with wicker baskets as seats, to pony rides. To see the laughter and pleasure, particularly in a world that seems to be focused on new technology, was one of the highlights of the day.
The organisers truly thought about how to cater for all generations, and incorporated re-enactments of Sultan Sulejman’s times in the region. Performers interacted with the audience, and were encouraged to participate in the festivities. Wearing period costumes, and taking scripts from history books, we were shown the some of the darker aspects of those times, which of course were taken in gest today.
Handicrafts, traditional food and other exhibits really brought home how society was back then, how we used to entertain ourselves, and pass time. How the different cultures managed to bridge the gaps to form a peaceful way of living. Even today the cultural make-up of this region is quite diverse, and one that forms the heart of community. It is this essence that was clearly on show and one that will ensure the Tarda Festival continues to bring people together.
As the evening continued the crowds swelled and all of a sudden there was a natural magical atmosphere in the air. Literally hundreds of visitors arrived out of thin air, and brought the whole experience to life. Of course there was a grand finale that added the modern dimension to the whole event, the arrival of Frajle from Novi Sad.
Four female vocalists who have a following all over the region, set the centre stage alive.
It was truly an event to remember, and one the organisers have promised will be bigger and better next year. This part of the country has a rich history, a deep culture, and truly is a destination. With events of this calibre, and a program that is growing every year, more should be done to encourage rural tourism. Osijek and Baranja is quite literally a natural paradise, with an amazing cultural heritage which opens its arms to welcome you.